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5 Common Door Lock Problems and How to Solve Them

Posted on : January 7, 2020

We’ve all done it – curse at doors that won’t open or close correctly. It might be a small, irritating door lock problem that worsens over time. Or, it could be one single catastrophic door lock failure. Whether you’re desperate to get indoors after a long journey, in a rush, or you’re trying to bring in the food shop, door lock problems are the last thing you need.

Their purpose is simple, but the technology and locking mechanisms behind door locks can become complicated. This makes some types of lock more prone to failure, or complications. Let’s discuss 5 of the most common door lock problems you could face. We’ll also share a few easy-to-remember solutions so that the next time you encounter a problem with your door lock, you know exactly what to do.

Misaligned Door Locks

It’s usually pretty obvious when a door isn’t correctly aligned within the door frame. Misaligned doors are unsightly and they’re certainly not great for the energy efficiency in the room. But it also means that the door lock won’t be correctly aligned either.

In its simplest form, a misaligned door lock means that the locking bolt doesn’t meet the strike plate on the door frame. When it begins, this can be an annoying door lock problem with a straightforward fix. However, this misalignment will worsen over time and could become a very serious door lock problem. Eventually, after a misaligned door has been constantly forced closed, the door lock will break.

Even if your door lock has been installed correctly, its position can move over time. Temperature changes can affect doors and even warp the material. Before you start dismantling your door lock, check the hinges on your actual door – it could be that your door is misaligned, and simply adjusting the positioning of the door might solve the problem.

If the problem isn’t with the door alignment, then you’ll need to adjust your lock and strike plate until they’re flush. Remove the strike plate and move it so that when your locking mechanism is activated, the two of them meet perfectly.

Loose Door Parts

A less serious problem is a loose door part. While this is considered more irritating than catastrophic, it’s a common problem and can eventually have serious consequences. There are many moving parts within door locks – once one of those parts becomes loose, the whole sequence is at risk of becoming damaged.

Extended use will loosen door knobs, handles, screws and latches. These loose parts mean that your door lock isn’t likely to function correctly – you might find yourself locked either inside or outside of the building. This makes things like burglaries easier, and creates a huge fire risk.

Try to tighten the screws you have access to. If that doesn’t work, the screws might have worn away completely, and need to be replaced. If, even after replacing them, there are still door lock problems, there could be a more complicated issue within the door lock mechanism.

Stiff and Jammed Door Locks and Latches

Another annoying door lock problem is a stiff, hard-to-use latch. Whether it’s a handle or a key-turn which is stiffer than it should be, this could also become a serious issue. That door lock is stiff for a reason – if you leave it for long enough, that stiff door lock will eventually become one that jams. It could become so jammed that you end up breaking your key inside the lock.

Do not ignore the signs of a stiff door lock. As with loose door parts, the risks of ignoring a potentially stuck door far outweigh the benefits of ignoring a faulty lock – your security and safety are at risk.

Doors become stiff and then unusable due to a build-up of dirt and grime within the mechanism. Try to clean the dirt away as effectively as possible with a cotton swab. Much of it will be hard-to-reach, so you might have to dismantle the lock to reach certain parts. Then, do your research and apply the correct lubricant to the jamming area. It’s important that you use the correct type of lubricant, as the wrong type could further damage the lock.

Broken Keys

It seems like you only ever break a door key when you’re already having a bad day, but the truth is that there’s more to a stuck key than bad luck. As we’ve already mentioned, ignoring common door lock problems will eventually cause a key to stick or break completely.

A key broken inside a door lock compounds the problem. As well as being stuck either inside or outside, you now have part of a key lodged very specifically into the door lock. Depending on how it broke (or got stuck), this could prevent you from moving parts of the door lock mechanism to fix the problem in the first place.

A key extraction kit has the tools you need to safely remove a broken key from within a lock. Be careful not to push any key pieces further into the lock. Once the key parts have been removed, inspect your door lock and figure out the problem – it might be time for a new door lock altogether.

Faulty Internal Mechanisms

The final door lock issue we’re going to discuss is one of the most difficult to solve – faulty locking mechanisms. Normally, this requires professional help and is the problem that is most likely to be broken beyond repair.

There are many different moving parts within a door lock. No matter how advanced or reliable your door lock is, eventually, one of those parts is going to break or wear down. When this happens, it’s normally time for a completely new door lock.

For more information and tuition about door locks and common door lock problems, check out our Locksmith Training Courses. You can train to become a fully qualified locksmith in as little as 5 days with MPL, and there won’t be a door lock problem that you won’t be able to fix.


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